Chargers turn away Santa Barbara for second time

The Chargers players and fans celebrate the big win over Santa Barbara that came on Senior Night

Dos Pueblos’ boys basketball team wielded the free throw as its most dangerous weapon on Tuesday, sinking 13 of them in the fourth quarter of a 58-55 Channel League victory over visiting Santa Barbara.

The free throw is not something that has been in Joe Zamora’s team’s arsenal.

Daniel Vickers, right, and CJ Zajic block Sam Cohen's shot attempt.

“Our team has had a lot of struggles this year and to step up down the stretch – because one of our biggest weaknesses is free throws – to make our free throws down the stretch just made it that much more rewarding.”

Santa Barbara led 49-44 with three minutes to go. From there, the Chargers reached the foul line 14 times and made 12 of them. Dos Pueblos was given 34 free throws in total and made 25 of them.

“We’ve really been working on (shooting free throws) and trying to simulate these kinds of situations in practice and it paid off tonight,” said Dos Pueblos captain Daniel Vickers.

Cruz Mertens, Chris Williams and Vickers were all a perfect 4-for-4 in the final period.

It was the second Channel League win of the season for the Chargers over Santa Barbara and the Chargers enjoyed the moment by celebrating with fans at mid-court after the game.

“It means everything,” Vickers said. “With tonight being Senior Night and our senior’s last home game, it’s something we’re going to remember for the rest of our lives.”

Mertens led all scorers with 19 and Williams added 14.

For Santa Barbara, Emilio Gonzalez led the Dons with 14. Brendan Fay was a star in the fourth quarter when he poured in all 11 of his points.

Fay’s scoring outburst pushed the Dons out to an early lead in the fourth quarter. The two teams entered the period tied up 33-33.

The free throws eventually caught up to Santa Barbara with DP taking the lead for good inside a minute in the game. While the Chargers attempted 16 free throws in the final quarter, Santa Barbara shot one.

“That’s life on the road,” said Santa Barbara head coach David Bregante. “We gotta play smarter.”

The Dons came into the game needing a win to secure second place in league. Now Santa Barbara needs a win against unbeaten Ventura on Thursday or finish the season in third place behind the Cougars and San Marcos.

Dos Pueblos travels to Buena.


Santa Barbara – Fay 11, Wagonhurst 4, Lopez 8, Ramos 3, West 2, Busch 9, Gonzalez 14, Cohen 4.
Dos Pueblos – Wopat 4, Conner 4, Mertens 19, Zajic 8, Vickers 7, Ray 2, Williams 14

SANTA BARBARA 12  14 7  22 – 55

DOS PUEBLOS 8 15 10 25 – 58